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This is from the facebook page 4UP: I work full time always have, I am disabled, have been since age 8 when I caught polio and my left leg became paralysed. In 1992 I got a life award of DLA high r…

Source: I demand that you make your ridiculous failing PIP appointment system accessible to disabled people

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This blog was inspired after reading the excellent and rather upsetting blog by Zorro at DWP Examination:

I thought you might be interested in whats happening in my local MIND.

Recently I became concerned about our local MIND after exploring their local website.

http://www.bathmind.org.uk/index.asp#
After extensive exploration It appears to me that just about all they offer is links to government supported/funded networks and projects

The benefits advisor is only paid to work for 10 hours a week and on their webpage much of what they offer in this area is said to be limited.
ie: Limited advice and referrals for challenging decisions.

This description on their website appears to have been altered recently as when I read it a few weeks ago it stated that it did not offer Appeals support?

I have also heard that those seeking benefits advice are encouraged to explore the governments ‘Social Prescriptions‘.

What is so disappointing for me is that most of whats on offer for those seeking help is point and click links.

Bath MIND also decided to stop people supporting people in their private offices and have moved to paying rent for use of a Perspex Pod in the Councils One Stop Shop.

 

Apparently Bath Mind used part of a grant it received from ST Johns hospital to hire a One Stop Shop Pod, stating the reason for the move being that their offices are on the second floor.

I have also heard it reported that the reason for changing location is due to a lack of staff in the building: If there is only the Advisor and Client in the building then there needs to be a risk assessment undertaken before they can meet.  (Personally I do wonder how much real quality client centred work can be carried out in Bath Mind if the offices are often empty)?

Having experienced both environments in the past, their offices, and the Once Stop Shop, I find the move to the One Stop Shop model regressive whereas the MIND offices were friendly relaxing and inviting, offering a Safe and Confidential space for people to communicate their most intimate thoughts and needs.

In Stark Contrast: To find yourself in the middle of a large Corporate Environment, situated in a Perspex Pod where you can be seen and heard by all those around you when dealing with filling Assessment Forms etc.

 

Personally I found this environment intimidating:

The first port of call in this ONE STOP Shop is an enquiry desk where a Large sign states Work Coaches are available all day, or word to that effect.

To the right is a POLICE KIOSK.

Our Police Station has been demolished and turned into a car park. The two WPCs in the KIOSK< work in an area resembling a rabbit hutch is now the local police station in effect.

Children run around whilst people sit around waiting to be seen for Housing advice. Its surely not the best and most helpful environment for people having to undergo claiming Disability Assessments.

Apparently Bath Mind used part of a grant it received from ST Johns hospital to hire a One Stop Shop Pod, stating the following reasons for the move:

Although clients find the Bath Mind office a “very calming” environment we are acutely aware of the limitations of being on the 2nd floor of a Georgian building. Funding from St. John’s Hospital will also allow us to rent space at the accessible One Stop Shop in Manaver’s Street, Bath”.

 

Bath Mind has also merged with The Depression Alliance.

Exploring the Depression Alliance site, I see they have a Work In Progress Campaign. amongst others.

Work in Progress Campaign states the following:

The “Work in Progress” campaign focusses on three key policy areas:

  • Improving access to job retention support
  • Enhancing understanding and recognition of the symptoms of depression
  • Promoting the concept of employment as a health outcome
  • Evidence shows that employment can be hugely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of people with depression.
  • Beyond providing income, work offers structure, focus and a social environment that can support self-fulfilment and provide an important sense of achievement.
  • We call on government departments at a national and regional level to work together to drive this agenda forward, and commit to improving the provision of evidence-based support to help people with depression achieve vocational outcomes.

Corporate/Government takeover of MIND? Or has my mind been taken over by Paranoia?

Hows your local MIND operating nowadays?

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Thanks to the Child Poverty Action Group for these very user friendly Guides.  Please circulate:

http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/Workshop%205%20-%20Universal%20Credit%20for%20Disabled%20People%20%26%20Carers.pdf

 

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via Have You Asked For A Statement Of Reasons After Appeal? — Same Difference

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The latest PIP, ESA and DLA news Source: New PIP case law resource

via New PIP case law website online resource, free to use. |BenefitsandWork.co.uk — Britain Isn’t Eating

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This has been copied from the Benefits and Work Website:

Please share

An NHS whistleblower has claimed that the A&E crisis is being made worse because highly trained NHS paramedics across the country are being poached by Atos and Capita to do assessments for personal independence payment (PIP), instead of saving lives.

Paramedic shortage
There is a severe shortage of paramedics throughout the UK, but Hampshire – where our whistleblower works – has a particularly acute problem. South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS)had over 250 vacancies for paramedics in November of this year.

Our whistleblower claimed that the situation was being made even worse because experienced paramedics are leaving to take up full time posts with Atos, who carry out PIP assessments in the region.

Paramedics in the NHS usually have to train to degree level, yet salaries range from just £21,478 to £27,901 for the most experienced paramedics. In addition, the job involves a good deal of shift work and unsocial hours.

Atos, on the other hand, offer paramedics who join them as full-time PIP assessors a salary of £32,000 plus private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection insurance and no unsocial hours.

It is hardly surprising if paramedics choose to make the move to Atos, or to Capita who offer a very similar package.

The effects of the paramedic shortage can be seen on a daily basis. Just this week an injured cyclist was left lying on the pavement for more than two hours in central London whilst waiting for paramedics to arrive.

The paramedic shortage is also taking desperately needed cash from the NHS. In Hampshire 16% of paramedic cover is currently provided by much more expensive private companies while health trusts around the UK are having to advertise abroad to try to attract paramedics to the UK.

Paramedics are also vital for reducing pressure on A&E departments by providing effective treatment on the spot. In many cases this reduces the amount of time spent on patients when they arrive at A&E or removes the need for a visit altogether.

Dismissal for speaking out
The SCAS employee who contacted us about the crisis was afraid to speak out publically because staff have received an email this week warning them that telling outsiders about problems in SCAS, especially online, could lead to dismissal. The email threatened:

“Everything you say online is subject to the same disciplinary procedure that covers your conduct in the real world. There have been disciplinary hearings that have resulted in staff being dismissed for breaches to the SCAS Code of Conduct.

“Don’t let this happen to you!

“We value our staff and it is important that when staff and the organisation are feeling the pressure, that we try and provide the appropriate support through internal and external means rather than airing frustrations that may damage public confidence.

“If you have any concerns, queries or want to ask us about this please do contact us. In the meantime for more information go to:

“The SCAS Discipline & Conduct Policy & Procedure”

We contacted SCAS and asked them how many staff have left to work for Atos or Capita in the last six months. A spokesperson told us:

“South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are unable to advise on the numbers of staff who have left the organisation to join the organisations you have named. Unless staff are leaving to join another NHS Trust, they are not obliged to inform us of the name of their new employer.”

SCAS also denied that the recent email to staff was related to concerns about paramedics leaving to join the private sector.

Cash before lives
Atos and Capita have not even begun the massive task of assessing millions of existing disability living allowance claimants for PIP as part of the Coalition’s effort to reduce benefits spending. When they do, they will need to take on hundreds more assessors. How many of these will be poached from the NHS?

The crisis in paramedic numbers is not new, it has been growing since 2010. There would have been nothing to prevent the DWP stipulating in the PIP contracts for Atos and Capita that they did not recruit paramedics. There would be nothing to stop them doing so now.

The fact that they don’t reinforces the impression that, for the DWP, saving cash is always more important than saving lives.

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